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Quail Brush Opponents Pack Hearing, Debate Power Needs

Santee Councilmember Jack Dale: "This plant is proposed for this spot simply because they'll make more money."

About 150 people showed up to the Friday night California Public Utility Comission (CPUC) hearing about proposed local power plants, including the Quail Brush Power Plant project that would be built near Santee. The location would also be adjacent to Mission Trails Regional Park in La Mesa.

Opposition groups, including Save Mission Trails and The Sierra Club, showed up in full force for a rally before the meeting and packed the seats inside. Dozens of speakers argued passionately to a commission representative who will bring notes of the meeting back to the CPUC- most spoke against the plants, and a only one in favor of their construction. County Supervisor Dave Roberts and Santee City Councilmember Jack Dale spoke out against the project as well.

"This plant [Quail Brush] is proposed for this spot simply because they'll make more money," said Dale.

Dale finished his remarks by saying that every group in Santee that has spoken publicly about Quail Brush has spoken in opposition.

Roberts said he would do everything in his power to stop these "wrong plants at the wrong places."

The ony speaker in favor of constructing the plants cautioned about NIMBYism (not in my back yard) and said "we can't just say no to everything."

Two draft decisions released by the CPUC in November suggest that the commission won't approve the 20-year power purchase agreement lined up by San Diego Gas & Electric and Cogentrix in anticipation of future regional energy needs.

The decision isn't final until the CPUC votes on the issue, and draft decisions can still be amended. According to CPUC records, Cogentrix met with CPUC officials in private in early December, and since then the vote to finalize the decision has been delayed at least twice.

"We understand that this is now a decision based more on political power than power generation," said Van Collinsworth, a vocal oppenent to the project and Resource Analyst/Executive Director for Preserve Wild Santee.

The main question before the CPUC is whether the San Diego region needs more electricity generation capability to keep the grid powered during high use days. Many public speakers touched on this topic and agreed with the CPUC draft decisions that none of the proposed plants are currently necessary on that basis.

"There have been no recent power outages in the region due to lack of generation," said Collinsworth.

"Even with San Onofre offline we're doing fine on hot days," said former California Assembymember Lori Saldaña.

"Solar is the direction we want to go as a community and state," she said.

Sandy February 05, 2013 at 03:04 AM
Good recap, but I recall only one person - obviously requested and/or paid to speak by SDG&E - who spoke in favor of the plants. I was there from start to finish. It was a good night, bit the fight's not over. You can go to www.savemissiontrails.org/email-activism to see how to send an email to the CPUC before the vote slated for Feb. 13.
Mike Walker February 05, 2013 at 09:18 AM
The fight is not over, I think we must have our voices heard in the Governor's office. Additionally, we must stop the aggressive push to utility scale renewable energy in our desert for three reasons. 1. It destroys our public lands. 2. It provides a solid argument for more gas power plants. 3. Will drive the cost of CCA electricity very high as rate payers will have to pay for all. Saddle up, on to the Governor's office.
Retha Knight February 05, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Friday night was a great turn out for having only 3 days notice! Thank you everyone that showed up in opposition to the power plants!
Tom Dragonetti February 05, 2013 at 03:37 PM
Why not try to leverage the rooftops of more houses in Santee for Solar Panels? There are some early adopters, but the pricing/leaseback and hands free clauses (If you need a roof repair, you must call a contractor for the solar panels as well as a roofer) are holding a lot of people back. Right now it doesn't make sense to go with some of these companies unless you have a brand new 30 year roof in place, or the cost of a new roof in 10-20 years will be double what it is now due to additional labor. Address these issues, and many more citizens will be PROUD to be contributing to the solution, and not just saying "not in my backyard" like we are with the power plant.
Komfort February 05, 2013 at 09:28 PM
The Peaker Plants are a direct result of the increase in renewable energy. We have been over this before. More solar, more peakers. Look it up.
Craig Maxwell February 05, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Exactly right, Komfort. And not just solar--wind, too. Altogether, Obama's push to develope "renewable" energy will destroy far more land than TDR set aside for national parks.
Things I Learned February 06, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Mixed metaphors for the win¡¡¡

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